"No, please no..." whispered Frodo. "Merry can't die, not
after everything that we have been through. Please, Aragorn! Can't you help
him?" Frodo stroked Merry`s curls, frightened eyes pleading for the
King to help. This had happened so very quickly, so unexpectedly, and he could
not lose Merry now. The War was over, they had survived, and the Ring was
destroyed. They would go home soon!
Merry shifted a little on his bed, oblivious to the world outside his own
misery. Frodo shook his head in disbelief. He could not understand this. Merry
had not appeared at breakfast, so Pippin had gone in search of his cousin and
found him ill in bed. This came on very suddenly, as there had been no sign
that Merry was not feeling well the previous day.
“Don’t worry, Frodo,” Aragorn said, after feeling the cold of Merry`s
arm in contrast to the burning heat of the rest of his body. “Merry has been
through some of this before.”
“But why is his arm so cold now?” Merry had told Frodo most of what had
happened on the Pelennor Fields and in the Houses of Healing. What he himself
could not remember, Pippin had supplied. Frodo knew that stabbing the Witch
King would do much the same to Merry as being stabbed by the same evil creature
had done to Frodo at Weathertop. But had he been like this after he had been
“His body’s reactions are very similar to how your body reacted after
Weathertop.” Aragorn said, as if reading Frodo`s mind. “Your shoulder and side
were cold too. “
“Yes, but I also felt like I was burning up, the pain was that intense.
But why is Merry so feverish now? He was well yesterday.”
“You had a slight fever for most of the time due to the wound, and that
cannot be compared to what ails Merry now. Merry`s fever is caused by something
other than an injury.”
Aragorn examined Merry, and was pleased when he found that there were
cures for what ailed him. Then he started asking questions.
“Pippin, what happened?”
When Pippin did not come back from looking for Merry, Frodo had abandoned his own
breakfast and gone after him. Perhaps if Sam had been there Frodo would not
have been so quick to go and search for his cousins, but he had gone with
Legolas and some other elves to Ithilien at Faramir's suggestion to look at
some sort of plants. If everything had been fine, Pippin would have come
directly back, at least with some kind of message, probably about Merry just
wanting to sleep in. Frodo had hurried to the sleeping chambers of the little
house they shared while staying in Minas Tirith, and found his cousins in
Merry`s room, Pippin doing all he could to help Merry.
“Go get Strider!” Pippin had yelled at him, before Frodo had even come
completely into the room.
“Merry!” Frodo said, and came forward despite the urgency in Pippin’s voice.
“What’s happened? Pippin, what is wrong?”
“I don’t know. He was like this when I came in. He looks like he’s lost to the
world! And his arm is cold again.” Pippin said, gently soothing Merry`s face
with a cool cloth hoping that his ministrations would bring his cousin round,
not caring about the tears that silently crept down his own cheeks.
Merry did not look well, that Frodo saw clearly. He was sweaty and feverish,
clutching his injured arm with his good hand, curled up into a tight ball. His
eyes were glazed and Frodo could not make eye contact with him.
“I’ll get Strider!” He said, and hurried out of the room. What in the name of
all that was good, was wrong with his dear Merry?
Aragorn was hovering over Merry.
Would his dear cousin die, Frodo wondered as the King poked and prodded a bit
more on Merry. Frodo knew that Aragorn had healed Merry with athelas when he
had been brought to the Houses of Healing, but as he had not seen his cousin so
affected by the Black Breath before, Frodo was terrified. Merry was so terribly
pale, his face grey. Suddenly Frodo remembered that Merry had been touched by
the Black Breath before while he was taking a walk in Bree. There he had just
fallen unconscious to the ground, a fright the only “injury”. But then Merry
had also been at Weathertop. That made three times. Frodo heard Pippin whimper,
and quickly caught the young hobbit up in a hug, holding him close. Pippin
sniffled a little, but showed no more evidence of tears. He remembered that Pip
had been with Merry through this before, and that he was more prepared for this
than Frodo himself was. Frodo wiped a hand over his own face, brushing away
tears he had not been aware of shedding, squaring his shoulders. They would get
through this, they had to!
“There is illness spreading amongst the Rohirrim, and he may of course have
caught something from them. He is often among them. Has he complained to any of
“No, but he’s had problems using his hand, and it is still cold at times.”
“He is weakened after stabbing that foul creature.” Aragorn said.
“That might be the reason then. Merry would not react like this to a simple
sickness. He is one of the healthiest hobbits I know. He almost never comes
down with anything. It`s a long time since he was ill in bed for some reason.”
Frodo said. Pippin nodded.
“Yes. It’s usually Frodo or me who ends up in bed with a cold or a fever.” He
smiled, despite the dramatic situation.
“Let’s see what some athelas can do for him then.” Aragorn said. He had brought
several fresh leaves with him, and when Merry breathed in the scent of athelas
steeped in hot water, he uncurled and closed his eyes, his whole body relaxing.
He stopped clutching his icy hand.
“Merry? Merry! Are you with us?”
Merry opened his eyes again, two hobbits and a man slowly coming into focus.
“Strider!” He said. “Pip…Frodo... What are you all doing here? And…” He looked
around, finding himself lying in bed. “What am I doing in bed? What is the
“Almost time for elevenses. How do you feel, Merry?” Aragorn asked.
Merry lay back and thought for a moment. “My arm was cold again, but it’s
better now.” He sneezed, suddenly. “And I feel rather stuffy and achy.”
“You are ill. There are a lot of the Rohirrim soldiers who have been unwell the
past few days, you know.”
“Yes. But my arm should not feel like this if all I have is a bout of the
sniffles, should it?”
“No, not normally. But” Aragorn looked at Frodo and Pippin now “all of you are
weakened after what you have achieved in this war. And it is not that long
since you were healed, Merry. Two months is not a very long time.”
“No, I guess you are right. What happens now then? May I get up?”
“You are staying in bed today, and I’ll be back to see how you are faring
tomorrow morning before I let you out of bed. If anything changes for the
worse, call for me at once. You should sleep, Merry.”
Merry nodded, yawning and sneezing again. He shifted a little, uncomfortable.
He had not slept much the previous night, and he felt tired. “Can’t I have a bath
first? I’m all sweaty.”
Aragorn put his hand on Merry`s forehead. “I think that athelas cured
your fever. A bath would probably make you feel better, and since you are a bit
congested it will not harm you to drink something warm either.”
“You’d better take that bath, Cousin” Pippin stated, pinching his nose shut,
mischief suddenly in his eyes. “Or else I won’t stay and keep you company.”
Pippin shot a quick glance at the King. “If my liege Lord does not have
anything else in mind for me today that is?”
“I order you to take care of your cousin today, Peregrin.” Aragorn said before
he bowed and left the hobbits, smiling fondly.
“Oh!” Frodo said, reaching out to hug Merry tight. “I thought you were
“Dying?” Merry said, puzzled.
“You did look like I found you after the battle, Merry. You gave us
quite a fright then, and you scared us today too.” Pippin joined in the hug,
and the three cousins stayed like that for a while, relishing the feeling of
being safe and having each other close.
“Then it is settled.” Pippin said, when the need for air made its presence
after a while. “Now, you just wait here while I get that bath ready. You keep
an eye on him Frodo!”
“Aye, Cousin” Frodo and Merry said with an identical mock salute. Merry
then settled down comfortably, suppressing a sneeze, while Frodo pulled a chair
up by his bedside.